272 pages, 8 plates with colour photos; b/w photos
Under the cover of night, deep in the desert of Afghanistan, a US Army handler led a Special Forces patrol with his military working dog. Without warning an insurgent popped up, his weapon raised. At the handler's command, the dog charged their attacker. There was the flash of steel, the blur of fur, and the sound of a single shot; the handler watched his dog take a bullet. During the weeks it would take the dog to heal, the handler never left its side. The dog had saved his life. Loyal and courageous, dogs are truly man's best friend on the battlefield. While the soldiers may not always feel comfortable calling the bond they form love, the emotions involved are strong and complicated.
In War Dogs, Rebecca Frankel offers a riveting mix of on-the-ground reporting, her own hands-on experiences in the military working dog world, and a look at the science of dogs' special abilities – from their amazing noses and powerful jaws to their enormous sensitivity to the emotions of their human companions. The history of dogs in the US military is long and rich, from the spirit-lifting mascots of the Civil War to the dogs still leading patrols hunting for IEDs today. Frankel not only interviewed handlers who deployed with dogs in wars from Vietnam to Iraq, but top military commanders, K-9 program managers, combat-trained therapists who brought dogs into war zones as part of a preemptive measure to stave off PTSD, and veterinary technicians stationed in Bagram. She makes a passionate case for maintaining a robust war-dog force. In a post-9/11 world rife with terrorist threats, nothing is more effective than a bomb-sniffing dog and his handler.
With a compelling cast of humans and animals, this moving book is a must read for all dog lovers – military and otherwise.
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Rebecca Frankel is senior editor, Special Projects at Foreign Policy Magazine. Her regular Friday column "Rebecca's War Dog of the Week" has been featured on The Best Defense since January 2010. Her photo essay "War Dog," is the most-viewed piece in ForeignPolicy.com's history and has received upwards of 16 million views and over 100k likes on Facebook. She has appeared as a commentator on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and MSNBC among others. In 2011, she was named one of 12 women in foreign policy to follow on Twitter by the Daily Muse.